AIM Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a risk factor for oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC), with an increasing incidence. The present study aimed to determine the changing incidence of HPV in patients with OPSCC in the period 1980-2009 and its influence on survival. PATIENTS AND METHODS We randomly sampled 158 patients from a cohort of 828 patients with OPSCC stratified by decade (1980-1989, 1990-1999, 2000-2009). Formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded material was tested for HPV DNA by SPF-10 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and immunohistochemically stained for p16 and p53. RESULTS DNA from 146 patients was suitable for HPV detection. HPV DNA was detected in 13/47 (28%), 18/47 (38%), and 20/52 (38%) patients in the cohorts of 1980-1989, 1990-1999, and 2000-2009, respectively (p-value for trend=0.269). Lack of further increase during the most recent decade is inconsistent with the rising incidence and higher prevalence reported in other Western countries. Patients with HPV-positive OPSCC had a better survival in spite of higher tumor stage.